Dan Kelly’s FFP – Week 10
“Racing is a massive fashion sport and if you’re not in fashion you slip into the darkness”
Late last week, Jamie Spencer decided that it was time to step away from the saddle; “As much as I love race riding, it is not something I want to do for the rest of my life and while I am not necessarily ready to retire now, I feel at a stage when I am ready for a change.”
Confidence is a big thing for any sportsperson, but when reading an interview with Lee Mottershead back in 2011, you got the impression it is everything to Spencer. Talking about his time at Ballydoyle, “I just came back in the February, started riding out and realised that I couldn’t do it any more. I don’t think I was up to it. I felt I was living a lie. I never thought I was as good as people said I was and without self-belief you have no belief at all. It was best for everyone that I went.”
Wanted by Ballydoyle and Godolphin, 2005 Champion Jockey, this still wasn’t enough to dispel the doubts he had “even after I became British champion in 2005. I saw myself as damaged goods. I felt nobody wanted to touch me. Until I went to Ballydoyle there had been no blips in my career, but all of a sudden, at the age of 24, I’d left Ballydoyle and Godolphin and parted company with the sport’s two biggest stables. I felt a bit of a failure and I wasn’t comfortable with myself. It has taken until now to really rebuild my confidence in me.”
Jamie Spencer won his first classic at the age of 17, the 1998 Irish 1,000 Guineas. Irish Champion Apprentice in ’99. Second jockey to Godolphin in 2003. Ballydoyle jockey in 2004. British Champion Jockey in 2005 then again in 2007. Career littered with Group 1 wins on the likes of Kyllachy, Excellent Art, Sariska and Excelebration.
In 2011 he won the Gold Cup on Fame And Glory, the Man O’War Stakes on Cape Blanco, enjoying one of his better seasons, this only four years following his second Champion Jockeys title. Still at the turn of the 2011 he saw himself as “out of fashion” coming into the season. Come the end of the 2012 season he was definitely in vogue, and Qatar Racing came calling.
Everything was set; Spencer was back near the top of his game and he signed a two year deal with Qatar Racing the new heavyweights on the Racing scene. Spencer delivered his side of the bargain; Group wins on the likes of Just The Judge, Kiyoshi and Side Glance. The rest of the Qatar team didn’t however, whether through trainer appointments, planning or purchases.
The failings of his paymasters will see him ride his lowest number of winners in a season since parting with Ballydoyle in 2004. The loser in the fallout should be Qatar Racing; and hopefully Spencer’s thinking will not follow similar thread of those in 2005; that he is damaged goods or a failure for he is neither.
During his interview, Jamie commented that “racing is a massive fashion sport and if you’re not in fashion you slip into the darkness.” Hopefully Spencer’s time away from the saddle isn’t long, or dark.
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